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Need a $10,000 cash advance? Square now an option

Best known for making credit card readers that plug into mobile phones and tablets, Square has been extending merchant cash advances to small businesses already using its payment-processing software and systems through a program it calls Square Capital. In exchange for a lump-sum payment, a small business agrees to pay back to Square a fixed amount plus the original cash advance, deducted from the business as a percentage of its daily credit card sales.

This type of funding fills a niche, since it is an option for small businesses like Juxtapose, which cannot access conventional loans. As a result, lenders can charge higher interest rates than banks.

Read MoreStarved for cash, Main Street turns to alternative lenders

Since May, the San Francisco-based company has issued these advances to roughly 10,000 small businesses using $50 million of its own cash, said Square spokeswoman Faryl Ury. Eligibility is based on a business’s monthly sales and history with Square. Most of these cash advances have been for less than $10,000, and Square typically takes 4 percent, 7 percent or 10 percent of a small business’s daily card sales until the advance is paid off, Ury said.

In August, Victory Park Capital handed Square Capital a hefty investment to ramp up the program and extend more cash advances to more merchants. According to Ury, Square isn’t releasing the exact amount of the investment, but the cash from Victory Park will allow Square to “extend hundreds of millions of dollars as quickly as possible.”

The investment comes at a time when Square finds itself in flux. While the company continues to grow—Ury said Square employs more than 800 people and processes “tens of billions of dollars” annually—the company still has not turned a profit. Another, separate investment of $100 million into Square, announced in September, brings the company’s valuation to $6 billion, but Square is also competing in an increasingly crowded payments sector against the likes of PayPal, Google and now Apple.

“The pressure is on for them to really start figuring out how to keep merchants, and keep merchants that are processing on a regular basis and at a respectable volume,” said Phillip Parker, a former independent agent in the credit card–processing industry and founder of the merchant-account reviewing website CardPaymentOptions.com.

Read MoreSquare: CNBC Disruptor [...]

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‘Trapped Cash’ Phenomenon Labeled an Overstatement

By Siobhan Hughes

Big American companies have long complained that an estimated $1 trillion in cash is trapped overseas—all because the U.S. corporate tax rate of 35% keeps companies from bringing it home. A new report from a California tax-law professor counters that argument, calling it an “overstatement” advanced by large, multinational corporations with significant foreign operations.

Ed Kleinbard, a professor at the University of Southern California who was previously chief of staff at the Joint Committee on Taxation, examines why so many companies are seeking to reincorporate overseas for tax purposes, a practice known as inversion. Companies are advancing a “false narrative,” he says, that they are pushed into inversions because “their love goes unrequited by a country that cruelly saddles them” with “the highest corporate tax rate in the world.”

Instead, U.S. multinationals take advantage of a “feast of tax planning opportunities” to end up with corporate tax rates that are “the envy of their international peers,” he writes. A May 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office found that for the 2010 tax year, the effective tax rate paid by profitable companies was 17%, factoring in foreign and state and local income taxes. The effective rate was 22.7% when unprofitable companies were included – still well below the top rate of 35%.

As an example, Mr. Kleinbard cites Apple Inc. The maker of the iPhone held $113.3 billion in cash and other instruments in overseas subsidiaries as of Sept. 28, 2013. In May 2013, it issued almost $17 billion in debt. Under the U.S. tax code, the interest earned on the overseas cash is taxable in the U.S. At the same time, the interest payments on the debt are tax-deductible in the U.S. The interest earned on the overseas cash investments can be used to pay the interest on the loan, and the company, Mr. Kleinbard says, “is left in the same economic position as if it had simply repatriated the cash tax-free (plus or minus a spread for differences in interest rates between the two streams.)”

“As Apple Inc. demonstrated in 2013, large multinational firms often can access their offshore earnings without incurring a tax cost, simply by borrowing in the United States and using the earnings on the offshore cash to pay the interest costs,” he writes.

The idea that current tax rules trap cash overseas, Mr. Kleinbard concludes, is a “great overstatement.”

 


 

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How to Compete With All-Cash Home Buyers

As cash buyers continue to inundate ;recovering markets, it’s easy to feel like the underdog ;if your offer includes a pre-approval letter for a mortgage.

In some places — ;especially in the Midwest and Florida — ;more than half of sales in the first quarter of 2014 were closed with cash, ;according to a recent Zillow analysis.

“Cash is always the deal-sealer and the best way to get deals,” said Joe Spake, a longtime real estate agent in Memphis, where nearly half of first-quarter sales were all-cash. “Just, not a whole lot of people have it, especially in the regular-people realm. The average working person is going to have to get a mortgage.”

Across the country, cash buyers are on the decline, but in some markets you’re still very likely to be pitted against one. We asked agents in the country’s most cash-rich markets for advice for buyers who want to stay competitive without ;cash.

The Bottom Line is the Bottom Line

Cash buyers come in looking for a deep discount, said Tony Baroni, an agent in ;Tampa, which trails only Miami in the percentage of homes purchased with cash.

“At the end of the day, all the seller cares about is how much money they’ll get,” Baroni said. “Some sellers don’t care if it’s cash or financed.”

Tucson agent Spirit Messingham has seen buyers get intimidated when they go up against all-cash offers.

“What I tell people … is that most sellers don’t care if I give them a bag of dirty old cash or if I give them a loan from a local lender,” he said.

Get a Solid Loan

If you can’t write a fat check, get pre-approved and know how much you can put down on a home before you start shopping, agents said. Spake believes it’s worth seeking out a local lender. ;The seller or listing agent might even recognize the lender’s name — ;or at least the bank’s name — ;and that could give you an edge.

Plus, Spake said: “I can go to that person’s office and stand on his desk if I have to.”

How Much Do You Want it?

Cash buyers are often investors, so they’re looking for a great deal. If a competing buyer is shopping for a home, it’s sentimental. The home ;might be worth more to them than the asking price.

“When we go up against a cash buyer, you need to act decisively,” Messingham said. “How badly do you want it? Because it’s not just an investment. It’s not like we’re trying to buy Apple [stock] at a 52-week low. This is going to be your home.”

Lyn Miller, an agent in Miami, agreed: “Sometimes you’ve got to offer over the asking price to get them.”

Keep it Simple

One major advantage of cash is simplicity. Relying on the ;loan process adds a level of complexity to the deal. To compensate for that, agents said it’s important to make your offer straightforward and simple.

Baroni recommends short inspection periods and lots of earnest money.

In Memphis, a popular market for investors, Spake tells his buyers ;not to ask for anything they don’t really need.

“The bottom line for me is to make the cleanest deal for the seller possible,” he said. “I want them to pick me, and I don’t want them to have a lot of hidden paragraphs” in the offer.

Personalize It

Baroni took a chance recently and delivered an offer with a photo of his buyer and a letter explaining the buyer’s story. The offer came in $5,000 lower than the highest offer on the table, but the seller picked his client anyway.

A human angle is something investors often can’t bring to the table, and it can sometimes seal the deal just as well as a briefcase full of George Washingtons.

Read More from Zillow:

Metros ;Where Cash Buyers Dominate the Market

10 Markets Where Borrowers ;Have the Edge

15 Cities Where Renting Rules

Emily Heffter, a reporter and writer for Zillow Blog, covers celebrity real estate, unusual properties, and other real estate topics. Read more of her work ;here.

[...]

How to compete for a home without cash

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Real estate

How to compete for a home without cash

Emily Heffter
Zillow

2 hours ago

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As cash buyers continue to inundate recovering markets, it’s easy to feel like the underdog if your offer includes a pre-approval letter for a mortgage.

In some places — especially in the Midwest and Florida — more than half of sales in the first quarter of 2014 were closed with cash, according to a recent Zillow analysis.

Lynne Sladky / AP

In cash-rich markets such as Miami, would-be home buyers without a lot of money should consider these tips to seal a deal.

“Cash is always the deal-sealer and the best way to get deals,” said Joe Spake, a longtime real estate agent in Memphis, Tennessee, where nearly half of first-quarter sales were all-cash. “Just, not a whole lot of people have it, especially in the regular-people realm. The average working person is going to have to get a mortgage.”

Across the country, cash buyers are on the decline, but in some markets you’re still very likely to be pitted against one. We asked agents in the country’s most cash-rich markets for advice for buyers who want to stay competitive without cash.

The bottom line is the bottom line

Cash buyers come in looking for a deep discount, said Tony Baroni, an agent in Tampa, Florida, which trails only Miami in the percentage of homes purchased with cash.

“At the end of the day, all the seller cares about is how much money they’ll get,” Baroni said. “Some sellers don’t care if it’s cash or financed.”

Tucson, Arizona, agent Spirit Messingham has seen buyers get intimidated when they go up against all-cash offers.

“What I tell people … is that most sellers don’t care if I give them a bag of dirty old cash or if I give them a loan from a local lender,” he said.

Get a solid loan

If you can’t write a fat check, get pre-approved and know how much you can put down on a home before you start shopping, agents said. Spake believes it’s worth seeking out a local lender. The seller or listing agent might even recognize the lender’s name — or at least the bank’s name — and that could give you an edge.

Plus, Spake said: “I can go to that person’s office and stand on his desk if I have to.”

How much do you want it?

Cash buyers are often investors, so they’re looking for a great deal. If a competing buyer is shopping for a home, it’s sentimental. The home might be worth more to them than the asking price.

“When we go up against a cash buyer, you need to act decisively,” Messingham said. “How badly do you want it? Because it’s not just an investment. It’s not like we’re trying to buy Apple [stock] at a 52-week low. This is going to be your home.”

Lyn Miller, an agent in Miami, agreed: “Sometimes you’ve got to offer over the asking price to get them.”

Keep it simple

One major advantage of cash is simplicity. Relying on the loan process adds a level of complexity to the deal. To compensate for that, agents said it’s important to make your offer straightforward and simple.

Baroni recommends short inspection periods and lots of earnest money.

In Memphis, a popular market for investors, Spake tells his buyers not to ask for anything they don’t really need.

“The bottom line for me is to make the cleanest deal for the seller possible,” he said. “I want them to pick me, and I don’t want them to have a lot of hidden paragraphs” in the offer.

Personalize it

Baroni took a chance recently and delivered an offer with a photo of his buyer and a letter explaining the buyer’s story. The offer came in $5,000 lower than the highest offer on the table, but the seller picked his client anyway.

A human angle is something investors often can’t bring to the table, and it can sometimes seal the deal just as well as a briefcase full of George Washingtons.

More from Zillow:

Metros Where Cash Buyers Dominate the Market

10 Markets Where Borrowers Have the Edge

15 Cities Where Renting Rules

Emily Heffter, a reporter and writer for Zillow Blog, covers celebrity real estate, unusual properties and other real estate topics. Read more of her work here.

© 2006-2014 Zillow Inc., All Rights Reserved

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Foster carer in court over cash loan business that made 'thousands'

A foster carer ran an unlicensed cash loan ‘business’ handing over thousands of pounds to friends before demanding it back with interest, a court heard.

Sandra Lowe, 50, known as ‘Dawn’ is alleged to have made a ‘nice little profit’ running the cash loan and catalogue ‘businesses’ in south Manchester – but the 50-year-old says she acted out of charity.

The mum-of-two, of Hulme
, who works as a foster carer for Manchester City Council
, denies eight charges of unlawfully engaging in the activities of a consumer credit business without a licence and one charge of blackmail.

Businesswoman Maria Turner, who the court heard was ‘like a sister’ to Ms Lowe, told court that over a seven-year-period she borrowed ‘no more than £50,000’ from her friend to pay mortgage repayments, a tax demands and finance payments on an Audi.

The prosecution say that she ended up repaying £125,000 – and was told she still had £40,000 left to pay back in 2012, in the weeks before Ms Lowe was arrested.

Miss Turner, who runs sandwich shop ‘Mia’s’, at Burleigh Road, Stretford
, told the court she now felt an ‘idiot’ for not keeping track of how much she owed Ms Lowe and losing grip of her finances.

She said her financial problems ‘snowballed’ under the ‘enormous pressure’ of running a sandwich shop, a chip shop, an ironing business and nine by-to-let properties.

She said that when her home was repossessed in 2011 she stayed with Ms Lowe, who talked her out of ‘driving off Barton Bridge’.

But she claims that the day after, the defendant made her sign a document saying she still owed her £52,000, despite the fact she had been paying her hundreds pounds a week for several years.

Sobbing, she told court: “When I saw the £50,000 what I owed it kind of sent me to another place. I thought ‘I’ll never do it – I’ll be paying it until I’m seventy.”

It’s alleged that Lowe ‘demanded money with menaces’ between May and July 2012.

Summarising the alleged demands, Miss Turner said: “She said, you better get the money in else I’ll tell your son, I’ll come to the shop and take it out of the till.”

“I was waking up to it and going to bed with it – I was mithered to death”, she said of demands for repayment. Describing the effect of receiving a text from Ms Lowe which read ‘I dont care where it comes from but that £500 needs to go into my account.’

She said: “It was awful, terrible, disgusting. It makes your body shake… you can’t focus, your mind’s in a spin. You want to rob a bank to pay it.”

The prosecution also allege that Ms Lowe ran an unlicensed catalogue business, supplying pals with goods she had ordered from firms such as Kays and Argos at a profit.

Following her arrest, Ms Lowe insisted that she did work for Kays, although the prosecution says the firm has no record of her.

Opening the case, Ben Mills, prosecuting, told the jury: “She says this was all charity work – me loaning money for nothing, me administering all these loans for nothing, Was it out of the goodness of her heart? That’s what you will have to consider in her case.”

Proceeding


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Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) is reportedly seeking loan to finance its mega buy of 45% stake in Verizon Wireless, which currently remains unacquired from Vodafone Group PLC (VOD). The loan amount will consist of $14 billion divided into a $2 billon, 364-day revolving credit facility and $12 billion for three and five-year term loans.

Further, the $2 billon revolving facility will be priced at 10bp on undrawn amounts, while the drawing price would remain LIB+125. In addition, the total $12 billion term loan will be divided equally into $6 billion priced at LIB+137.5 for the three-year term loan and LIB+150 for the five-year term loan.

These loan facilities are part of Verizon’s financing package for its  $130 billion worth acquisition plan. The company is also looking forward to a $49 billion bridge loan priced at LIB +150 that would be further refinanced with the company’s issues in the bond market.

According to news reports, Verizon is also coming up with plans like issuing bonds and may raise upto $50 billion, representing the largest corporate bond sale ever for the company. Verizon is expected to offer this loan in several tranches with maturity ranging from five years to as many as 100 years.

In addition, the issues are expected to be in several currencies predominantly in U.S. dollar, which can be up to $20 billion, which is even higher than the $17 billion debt raised by Apple Inc. (AAPL) in April this year that represented one of the biggest debt sale in the U.S. corporate history. 

Although these debts can enable the company to undertake its mammoth acquisition plan smoothly, we believe the additional financial burden will remain deterrent to investors’ interest. As of Jun 30, the company already has long-term debt (including current portion) of $49.8 billion, representing a debt-to-capitalization ratio of 36.3%.

Further, the company’s balance sheet position reflects cash and cash equivalents of only $5.5 billion, which makes its imperative for it to rely on debt funds to carry out the transaction. In such an event, we believe this would directly reflect on investor returns, resulting in lower dividend payout from the current dividend.

Verizon, which operates with other telecom players like AT&T, Inc. (T) currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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